By Billy Begas
Taguig-Pateros Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano reiterated his call to implement a “Build Build Build” infrastructure program in the tourism sector as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cayetano said the government should take advantage of the reduced tourist arrivals and movement in the country to implement a massive tourism infrastructure program.
“Ngayon na may COVID, bakit di tayo mag-Build Build Build sa lahat ng tourism-related [areas]?” said Cayetano. “Ang dami dami nating mga hidden gems. Ang dami dami pa ring mga lugar na hindi pa natutuklasan. Ang problema, wala pang imprastraktura.”
He said Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam have long been investing in tourism-related infrastructure like facilities for artisan establishments and clean and accessible washrooms to attract more tourist.
“What makes us think na after COVID, bigla tayong number one [in tourism]? But we can do two things, di ba? Na seryosohin yung sa bakuna. Pangalawa, lahat ng tourism-related na infrastructure and best practices, gawin na natin this year. Para pag reopen natin next year, mas maganda pa ang napakagandang Pilipinas,” he added.
In 2019, some 8.26 million foreign tourists arrived in the country, surpassing the Department of Tourism’s target. However, the figure is a far cry from Thailand’s nearly 40 million international tourist arrivals and Vietnam’s 18 million foreign tourists.
The tourism industry contributed 12.7 percent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product in 2019.